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PUBLICATION OF YOUTH JUSTICE PLEDGE FIGURES

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The government has now consistently met the pledge to halve the time ...
The government has now consistently met the pledge to halve the time

from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders for two years,

it was revealed today with the publication of the figures for the

first quarter of 2004.

The pledge was announced in 1997 and scheduled to be delivered by May

2002. It was first achieved in August 2001. Since then, the pledge

has been met for 24 out of 27 months.

Home Office minister with responsibility for youth justice, Paul

Goggins, said:

'The continued efforts of all the local criminal justice agencies in

making sure persistent young offenders are brought to justice quickly

is to be congratulated.

'The reforms to the way that these cases are handled at all stages of

the criminal justice system that are being brought in through the

Criminal Justice Act can only improve on this success.'

The figure for January to March 2004 was 66 days, the same as the

figure for the previous quarter. Thirty-three of the 42 criminal

justice areas have achieved the target of 71 days or less, compared

to 29 and 31 in the previous two quarters and the monthly figure for

March 2004 was 63 days.

Christopher Leslie, minister for the courts at the Department of

Constitutional Affairs, said:

'The public wants and expects every young person accused of breaking

the law to be dealt with in the criminal justice system quickly and

effectively. This helps minimise the risks of further offending and

provides the reassurance that people seek.

'Improvements in the way court cases are handled have made a

significant contribution to halving the time from arrest to sentence

for persistent young offenders and continuing to deliver on the

government's pledge.

'This, in turn, goes a long way to increasing public confidence in

the criminal justice system.'

Attorney general Lord Goldsmith said:

'My vision is that the Crown Prosecution Service will become a

world-class prosecuting service, making communities safer places to

live and work, bringing more offenders to justice and enabling the

public to have confidence in the criminal justice system working for

them.

'The CPS' approach to the Youth Justice Pledge embodies this vision.

Better case preparation, taking on responsibility for charging

suspects in all but the most minor offences so that the case is right

from the start, working as a prosecution team with the police and

helping the courts with sentencing, has contributed to the excellent

results over the last quarter. In that quarter, the CPS took on

shadow responsibility for charging in 321 police stations throughout

England and Wales. The current quarter will see that responsibility

becoming statutory. I am confident that this progress in the way the

CPS operates will continue to be reflected in improvements to the way

persistent young offenders are brought to justice.'

Rod Morgan, chairman of the Youth Justice Board, said:

'This achievement is one that should be celebrated, and I would like

to congratulate all of those people that have worked hard to make it

possible to continue to meet this pledge. As the new chairman of the

Youth Justice Board I am committed to ensuring that this progress

continues. I am particularly keen to see that the pledge is met in

all areas of the country, and will be working with colleagues to make

sure we are doing everything we can to make this happen.'

NOTES

1. In 1996, dealing with a persistent young offender (from arrest to

sentence) took an average of 142 days.

2. A persistent young offender is a person aged 10-17 who has been

convicted of a recordable offence on three or more occasions and

commits another offence within three years.

3. The Department for Constitutional Affairs statistical press notice

can be found on their website at www.dca.gov.uk

4. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) was established under the Crime &

Disorder Act 1998 to lead the reforms to the youth justice system.

One of the board's main responsibilities is to co-ordinate all the

work on delivering the government's pledge to speed up youth justice.

5. Copies of the Youth Justice Board's guide 'Speeding Up

Youth Justice' can be found on their

website at: www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk

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